Manilla Vestergaard

Soura

I am very fond of Denmark and grateful to be welcomed here. There are many Danes with big hearts. I carry a great historical grief of being a persecuted human being because of my religion. My family is ancient. My mother is Armenian and my father is a Chaldean. We descend from the original Christians.

We came to Syria because my parents had to flee from Turkey. In the Chaldean-Catholic congregation in Aarhus I sing in the choir and read texts in Chaldean. It is preached in Danish, Arabic and Chaldean in a wonderful mishmash, and it makes me happy. I thought I came to a free country, but even in Denmark I encounter the old conflicts between Christianity and Islam. It's so annoying. We must forgive and treat each other properly. We cannot take anything with us when we leave, life is too short for hatred and envy.

I am 60% foreigner in relation to my generation who came to Denmark in 1987. For fear of the new, most of them got together in a narrow network with prejudices against the Danish. My first marriage was arranged. I had 3 children with an Iranian man, but his family decided everything and when I was divorced I was ostracized. I got a lot of support from the Danes and could finally start to open up and become part of society.

I believe 100% in honesty and love, but it is as if we are not who we are any more. We hide behind masks. Many live alone, have everything, except love, care and joy, to being something for others. I would like to be a nurse and help the elderly. They have worked their entire lives so that we can live in the prosperity we have today.

Manila Vestergaard / 53 / children / married / Tilst / tailor, interpreter and teacher / from Syria / came to Denmark via family reunification 1987